Posted by: Kingsguru21 | November 22, 2009

Riddle me this Riddle me that: What is wrong with Spencer Hawes offensively?

Okay, I’ll admit I always liked Batman Forever because Jim Carrey was both the most retarded/awesome villain simultaneously. He was both sadsack and genius. Our villians, and heroes, show as much about our expectations as it does the character strength’s of flaws of those said villians and heroes.

Which brings me to the point: Spencer Hawes and Tyreke Evans. Can they work together offensively?

Before I’ll delve into this further, I’ll quote an excerot from Jerry Reynolds book (a seminal work despite the bright breezy attitude it attempted to take on):

Peja (Stojakovic) and Chris (Webber) always liked each other. Chris’s game didn’t fit Peja as well as Vlade’s did, and I’m not sure exactly what you do about that. I thought, at the start of last season (2004-05), that Chris went out of his way to find Peja. Because he’s not a one-on-one guy, Peja needs guys to find him, and Vlade (Divac) was good at that. Chris was, too, although he may not have found Peja as often as Vlade. That wasn’t a matter of dislike, though. People have a tendency to attach personalities to it when it’s really about the way guys play.

******

Rather than quoting all of that point by JR, I thought I would paraphrase some of what was said next. Basically, he mentioned Chris Webber is a scorer, and that while passing was one of his real gifts, it also wasn’t his first instinct. That was what made Vlade so valuable to the Kings, and in ways that didn’t necessarily show up in the box score.

Simply put, as Peja got older, and unfortunately so did Vlade Divac and Doug Christie, Peja never played with players who found it natural to move the ball and give it up to him to score. Consequently, Peja’s offensive game, and particulary his shooting (his strength, nein?) dropped off a bit towards the end of his tenure in the EC.

I think the reason’s that Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia were brought about was to sort of help that deficiency in ball movement and what not. It never worked, and the team kept tinkering with the lineup. Since the team was never fully healthy, or together, it’s hard to say exactly what would have happened.

Either way, once the Ron Artest trade happened, and Rick Adelman’s contract was not renewed, that went that.

This is sort of a long way of explaining what I think the problem is with Tyreke Evans and Spencer Hawes offensively.

******

Simply put, Spencer Hawes and Tyreke Evans offensive games don’t match. This won’t go away regardless of what happens with each.

Simple evidence: What 2 games were the most productive of Spencer Hawes this season? (Answer: Memphis and last night vs Houston.) What does these games have in common? Tyreke Evans didn’t play much when Spencer did in the Memphis game, and last night Tyreke didn’t play period.

Check out the Dallas game though: Tyreke was all over the place, and JT was quite a bit more effective against Dallas than he was Houston.

The point? JT & Tyreke’s game fit together well, and Spencer & Tyreke’s game do not. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s the way it is. It happens with every team and a group of players.

******

So what is the solution? Well, some of the solution is in the details that have already happened as is. The first is that Spencer needs to play on the perimeter and hit his shots to get the ball. Offensively, he simply has not shot the ball well enough to consistently from both deep 2 and 3 ball land to merit more shot attempts. That isn’t Tyreke Evans’ fault by any stretch.

Some of the other stuff though, is a bit more complicated. Because of the paragraph above, it’s been difficult for Paul Westphal to get Hawes into a flow that works with Evans’ game. For instance, let me state what “I think” was the plan from training camp.

I’m pretty sure that PW figured out early on that Hawes & Evans games really didn’t fit together well. Which is why Hawes would come off the bench because his game fits far better with Beno Udrih than Evans. When Hawes had his ankle injury, and played poorly in the pre-season, it sort of shook up the original plan that PW felt would get the most out of Hawes. Then when Francisco Garcia went down and any reasonable idea that keeping Hawes in the starting lineup wouldn’t work because there wasn’t any guy in the startling lineup who could find Spencer in spots where he would be effective. Than Kevin Martin went down, and Spencer started playing with Beno all the time in the startling lineup. Unfortunately, Beno was the SG and Nocioni is not that gifted in finding teammates in ball movement either. (Nocioni is one of the best finishers on this team. Which is really saying something.)

It’s kind of been the perfect storm of ingredients for Spencer Hawes to perform poorly in offensive stat parlance. On the other hand, Hawes has set screens for everyone, has been active, tried to play as hard as he could defensively, and has just missed too many inside shot’s to make anyone comfortable. (You think he’s happy he misses those?)

So. What IS the solution?

When Tyreke Evans is in the game, the Kings are wanting the ball in his hands to make plays. He makes JT better offensively, and Nocioni gets better shots with Evans in the game. Hawes also will get more wide open looks as Evans figures out the rhythm of the offense a bit better. Hopefully, Udrih can run the team more, and when this happens Hawes will get better looks down low.

I think this is, in fact, the plan PW is trying to stick to. The problem is, of course, that an NBA game rarely allows a coach to stick to the complete pre-set gameplan.

One of the things that I’m hoping Evans can do consistently is hit Hawes on the block where he can get in position to make a running hook. It’s one of his best paint shots (especially since he can make it with either hand), and he’s far more effective in making that shot than he is finishing a play on the paint where more athleticism is needed. That is simply one area where Hawes will never excel in. Maybe he improves his paint finishing, or maybe not, but he needs to do so to take another leap.

Check out the hotspot data for Tyreke Evans, Beno Udrih, Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes. (If you’re really horny for this stuff, look at Andres Nocioni as well.) If you’re really horny for this stuff, look at the 2008-09 data for Spencer & JT specifically. If that doesn’t show how much Tyreke Evans has impacted the shots that Spence & JT get, I don’t know what to tell you.

I can honestly tell you that Hawes major regression has been in shooting perimeter shots, and not how he plays on the inside.

Look at these shots on 82games.com if you want to see a bit different story this season:

For the 2008-09 season:

Shooting Details

Shot selection

Shot Att. eFG% Ast’d Blk’d Pts
Jump 52% .402 73% 6% 4.3
Close 35% .529 58% 11% 3.8
Dunk 9% .833 70% 7% 1.6
Tips 5% .541 0% 0% 0.5
Inside 48% .587 56% 9% 5.9
Shot clock usage

Secs. Att. eFG% Ast’d Blk’d Pts
0-10 35% .523 49% 11% 3.8
11-15 28% .509 72% 6% 3.0
16-20 25% .455 73% 5% 2.4
21+ 12% .431 59% 4% 1.1
Crunch 37% .448 69% 5% 3.4

 

For the 2009-10 season:

Shooting Details

Shot selection

Shot Att. eFG% Ast’d Blk’d Pts
Jump 52% .275 57% 8% 2.8
Close 38% .500 74% 18% 3.8
Dunk 7% .857 83% 14% 1.2
Tips 3% .333 0% 0% 0.2
Inside 48% .542 73% 17% 5.2
Shot clock usage

Secs. Att. eFG% Ast’d Blk’d Pts
0-10 28% .571 50% 11% 3.2
11-15 31% .419 77% 13% 2.6
16-20 25% .320 75% 16% 1.6
21+ 15% .200 100% 7% 0.6
Crunch 40% .275 82% 13% 2.2

 

The biggest difference (that I notice with the 82 games data) is that Hawes has gotten blocked inside more this season (it seems why he’s missing more than he is), but mostly the main difference is still the perimeter shots he’s missing now.

******

So what can Paul Westphal actually do if Hawes & Evans are on the court together? I’m not sure to be honest. But I’ll jot down some thoughts anyway.

  1. Run some plays early for Hawes (check)
  2. Put Hawes on the block so he can make his hook shots (again Check)
  3. Keep the faith that his perimeter shots will come back (check)
  4. Hope Omri Casspi or Francisco Garcia becomes a 2nd facilitator that can keep Spencer involved

Quite honestly, I don’t know what you can do when the first 3 things are already happening. It’s the 4th thing I’d like to point out.

If Omri Casspi becomes that facilitating Doug Christie type, than the Kings will have less of an issue with Hawes & Evans in the starting lineup. It’s just that simple folks. Perhaps, though, it’s a bit more complicated than that as Omri Casspi has not shown signs he is quite there yet. That’s okay too. It takes time to develop in the NBA and to be the most effective player you can be.

******

So what is wrong with Spencer? What you already know. He gets blocked too much inside. (JT too.) On the other hand I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Spencer & Tyreke’s game don’t really mesh. It’s a bit early in both career’s to say that, but I don’t think you’re seeing an upswing in JT shot attempts from a year ago solely because JT has gotten better. I think it’s because Tyreke & JT work really well in the offensive flow as a tandem. Both players skills/natural talents fit together well (a pleasant surprise) and because of this Spencer has to find his shots elsewhere and in a different rhythm. He’s adjusting to this, but I suspect that the end result long term is that Spencer will come off the bench to play major minutes when the Kings have enough talent up front to make Spencer the 3rd big.

And, how is that a bad thing?

In the meantime, I suspect that Spencer Hawes will have to continue to hit perimeter shots to stay as effective as possible in the offense. Right or wrong, that’s the way it is. Or, it comes down to something simpler.

Would you rather that more shots come from Tyreke Evans or Spencer Hawes? Is it better for the offense as a whole if Tyreke Evans has the ball in his hands far more often? If so, you have to sacrifice production from Hawes in order to live with Evans’ mistakes in the interim. And, that is exactly why Spencer’s production is so important to the vitality of the Kings. And, that’s probably why the Kings have had such a difficulty beating teams that can stop JT inside.

That ladies & gents is why the Kings are a 30 win team. (And that tickles me way too pink to be honest. 17 win atrocities do that to you.) Riddle me this; Riddle me that……..

 

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Responses

  1. […] Spencer Hawes looked bad again (especially defensively). I really do wonder if Tyreke Evans has something to do with it with Hawes offensive […]


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